South Yorkshire’s chief constable is hoping recent improvements in his force’s performance can act as a springboard to achieve ‘outstanding’ status in the next next year.
The force has had well-documented problems which saw it put into ‘special measures’ during 2016 by Government inspectors because of concerns about its performance in certain key areas.
Her Majesty’s Inspector of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services has now confirmed the force has moved into the ‘good’ category in the performance areas of effectiveness, legitimacy and leadership, meaning the force is now categorised as ‘good’ across the board.
However, Mr Watson believes the leaps forward his force has made recently can be sustained to the point where inspectors will recognise its performance as ‘outstanding’.
Its work on re-introducing neighbourhood policing, working against serious and organised crime and efficiency could all qualify for the top level assessment when the force is re-examined in future, with inspectors due to return in February.
He told councillors who make up the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Panel: “In the next 12 months, we may have our first ‘outstanding’ rating.
“I anticipate and hope for ‘outstanding’ in neighbourhood policing, serious and organised crime and efficiency. It would put us in the top five,” he said.
The force has been going through wide ranging changes, in the way it operates and works with other partner organisations.
Some changes introduce under a previous regime have been rolled back, including returning the mounted section to South Yorkshire from a shared arrangement with West Yorkshire where they were stabled at Wakefield.
Joint working with the Humberside force has been dismantled after failing to produce the successes anticipated and neighbourhood policing has also been re-introduced across the county, with very positive early successes.
The force is now recruiting additional officers, with most going into neighbourhood roles, though one of the posts will be an additional dog handler.